B.C. plans to revamp Agricultural Land Reserve legislation

British Columbia has introduced new legislation governing the Agricultural Land Commission.

Bill 15, the Agriculture Land Commission Amendment Act 2019, was tabled in March.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a news release that the bill better protects farmland and encourages farming and ranching.

“We are ensuring the commission has the tools and the governance model required to strengthen its independence and ability to act in the best interest of our farmland within the Agricultural Land Reserve so that British Columbians are able to access safe, locally grown food for generations to come,” she said in the release.

If passed, the act would replace the current Agriculture Land Commission governance model of six regional panels and an executive committee with one commission with regional representation from all six membership regions.

The ALC regulates development and preservation of land in the province’s ALR.

Another proposed change would require that exclusions be submitted to the ALC only by local governments and First Nations governments or to the province.

Another piece of legislation, Bill 52, came into force on Feb. 22. It restricted the removal of soil, increased penalties for dumping harmful debris in ALR lands, addressed the contentious issues of mansions being built on ALR land and reunified the ALR into a single zone to apply consistent rules.

“At the same time, we’re supporting larger farming families by ensuring that those who need extra living space to support their farming operations have a path forward at the ALC to build a larger home, “ stated Popham in a release.

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